Welcome back to our look at the record-setting 15th season of FXX's Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson & Danny DeVito-starring It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. After last week's two-episode premiere (check out our review here), we realize that we're living a dangerous life because as much as we're loving this weekly hour at Paddy's, we also realize that means the season will be wrapping up twice as fast (thankfully, we have "The Always Sunny Podcast"). But still, we forge on with looks at the nostalgia-fest "The Gang Buys A Roller Rink" (written by Rob Rosell & David Hornsby and directed by Richie Keen) and the satirical sledgehammer "The Gang Replaces Dee With A Monkey" (written by Howerton & Nina Pedrad and directed by Todd Biermann).
In the former, we learn about the fateful night when a plan to buy a roller rink in 1998 resulted in the Paddy's we know and love today (and a couple of interesting revelations). In the latter, a suspicion of menopause results in Charlie (Day), Mac (McElhenney), Dennis (Howerton) & Frank (DeVito) replacing Dee (Olson) with a monkey. Meanwhile, Dee lives the "those who can, do; those who can't, teach" life only to find her acting prospects suddenly showing signs of life… in Ireland. So with that in mind, we're throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and dropping down a spoiler image buffer as we take a look at why the season is now four-for-four when it comes to showing just how creatively strong the series still is and how familiarity can some times breed appreciation.
Season 15 Episode 3: "The Gang Buys A Roller Rink": While the season premiere may have been The Gang's statement on what's gone on in the country over the previous year, "The Gang Buys A Roller Rink" was a statement on where they're at as they stare down the 15th season of a series they never imagined making it to air let alone find itself inching dangerously close to two decades on screens. And if you've been following the podcast, there was an added appreciation to moments like when Charlie, Mac, and Dennis are hanging outside the newly-acquired Paddy's talking about how they hate the name and that they'll eventually change it (of course, they didn't). That's right in line with what Day, McElhenney, and Howerton thought about the title "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." They hated it but they knew they would eventually change it (of course, they didn't). Major props for bringing Frank into the mix this early on to further cement his presence on the show even though he didn't officially come aboard until the second season. We always just assumed Frank was doing things just off-camera during the first seven episodes so this cement that.
Also, I appreciated that Day, McElhenney, and Howerton didn't play their younger selves as such opposites that it would be impossible to believe how they ended up to be during the time that we've known them. Bonus points definitely go to Olson for giving us "Dee" and "Sweet Dee" and making them believably distinctive… which leads to our last point. Blunt head trauma?! "Sweet Dee" transformed into "Dirty Dee" after a game of chicken with a roller rink wall went south?! That changes my perspective on pretty much everything about her up until now. Metaphorically, it felt like Dee's brain was the first "car" of hers that Charlie and Mac destroyed. And who knew Charlie had that much invested in the bar? What did that make him? Something like 75% owner of the bar? Well, at least until he traded away his "shares" left and right over the years.
Season 15 Episode 4: "The Gang Replaces Dee With A Monkey": And just like that, we're back to The Gang wielding a ten-ton satirical hammer by taking on women in the workplace and the denigrating way many of them still get treated in their respective professions. The idea of Dee hitting menopause quickly becomes a concern by the guys over how it will impact them. So after Frank fills them with horror stories of what she will be like, they promptly decide to get rid of her. To further downplay what Dee's role has been around the bar, Frank brings in a monkey to prove that it could do her job. And guess what? The entire plan goes to shit because not only do they not respect or appreciate what she does but they also underestimate what she brings to the group. Meanwhile's Dee's acting coach storyline was intriguing because it appeared to show Dee benefitting by working a combination of doing the opposite of what she would normally do with her head trauma-induced selfishness. Do we see Dee being set up (and setting herself up) for a huge fall once she hits Ireland? Especially with The Gang tagging along? Well, let's just say that we feel like this crash-n-burn could be epic even by It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia standards.